Government should be ‘embarrassed’ to allow football but not travel

The government should be “embarrassed” to be opening up for European Championship football matches when it continues to prevent people travelling on holiday.

That is according to The Travel Network Group chief executive Gary Lewis who insisted: “It’s clear we’re different to all other sectors. We were the first into this crisis and are going to be the last out.

“We need special support because businesses will fail. But it’s not like we’re a broken industry. We just need to get through the next two to three months.

“If we can get people who are double jabbed away in August to green and amber countries a lot more companies will survive.”

More: Government under ‘intense pressure’ over international travel

MP at Day of Action insists government not penalising outbound travel

Government ‘owes it to travel’ to support the sector

Lewis described yesterday’s Travel Day of Action as “inspiring”, saying: “To see the whole industry represented with a clear message was fantastic. We’ve managed to focus concerns to enable people to see we have a special case.

“The hope is the government will be embarrassed. They made a political decision to open up for the football. How can they abandon the whole of the outbound travel industry?”

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer told Travel Weekly: “Recognising vaccination certification would get bookings going. The government is clearly trying to think through how this could work. But it would be good to get a clear statement, not just something leaked.”

Joss Croft, chief executive of UKinbound, noted: “It would be a surprise if the work streams for the global travel taskforce and for re-opening domestically [from July 19] are not linked.

“If we open from July 19 we can have quite a strong August and September for independent travel. But groups book three months in advance so time is running out. August is too late because of the uncertainty.

“We will need sector specific support through till March.”

Croft argued: “If it’s safe enough for fully vaccinated Americans to visit France why isn’t it safe for them to visit Britain?

“We’re awaiting the detail on mutual recognition of vaccination certificates. Then we might not need to put so many restrictions on green list destinations. But we’ve had no clarification at all on inbound visitors – whether those doubly vaccinated will be allowed to enter without testing and quarantine.

“Until we have confirmation people are not able to book.”

Travel agents and tour operators who took part in yesterday’s day of action added their voices to the demands for aid and to be able to restart.

Full Circle Travel managing director Niall Douglas pointed out: “It would be much cheaper to help us than allow companies to default on their bounce back loans.”

He said: “I’ve had £5,000 so far in financial aid. We’re a small agency. I only need £10,000 or £20,000 to make it through. It’s not a vast sum of money.”

Jill Waite, director of Pole Travel and co-founder of agents’ action group Target, argued: “As independent agents we’re very much on our own.

“I just hope the government realise we need furlough extended. Taking Portugal off the green list has ruined people’s confidence.”

Neil Sealy, head of trade sales at tour operator Exsus Travel, said: “We find ourselves in a situation where clients want to travel and destinations want to welcome them, but they can’t. It’s the government which is stopping us selling holidays. We need to be listened to.”

African Travel & Tourism Association chief executive Chris Mears added: “Our members in the UK have had to keep trading so couldn’t even put people on furlough. Many Africa specialist operators will be last to come back. They need financial support.”

More: Government under ‘intense pressure’ over international travel

MP at Day of Action insists government not penalising outbound travel

Government ‘owes it to travel’ to support the sector

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